Having looked at the glacier from a distance it looked just like stuff I had skied in Europe. Decided there were better ways of spending a day & a hundred bucks than hiking over stuff I’d prefer to slide over. As there were an extensive range of local hiking trails that could be done for nowt I did that instead.
One of my short walks in Franz Josef took me down a set of tunnels, wading through cold water. It was spooky doing it on my own as the tunnels magnified any sound and I kept checking back to see if I could see the light at the start of the tunnel. At the time I didn’t know what they were or where they went but it turns out they were aquaducts for gold sluicing and then hydroelectricity before being abandoned. All was good until I cracked my head on the roof on the way back. It brought me to a halt and I found I was leaking blood. Made my way back to town OK but there was no doctor so had to wait until Queenstown a day later to have it checked out. Doctor said I was OK.
Spent that night in Haast before driving on to Queenstown. We went out for a big night on the town and I didn’t get to bed until gone 4am so not a lot happened the next day. The day after was an early start as the bus was due to leave at 7am. Spike had made it perfectly clear that this was the one day he didn’t leave late and if you weren’t up you had missed the bus. At 7:30 John & I went to his room and woke him up. To say that Spike copped a some flack that day is an understatement.
We drove down through Te Anau to get to the spectacular scenery of Milford Sound. As we emerged from the Homer Tunnel it tooked bad as low cloud was obscuring the view, however half way through the cruise in the fjord the sun broke through and we got to see the Sound in all its glory. That night was spent in Te Anau and a general level of exhaustion meant an early night for all.
Next day we headed to Invercargil where Pia, Ola and myself caught a flight out to Stewart Island. On arrival we took a water taxi to Ulva Island for a bit of bird spotting (saw Fantails, Kakapos, Tuis & Wekas but no Kiwis) before a guided tour of the inhabited section of the island by Sam. Stewart Island only has 20km of roads, one town, Oban with a single pub and shop. A pint was had in one of the worlds most southern pubs, 47 degrees south.
I had already crossed the equator on the way to Samoa, the dateline on the way to New Zealand and I had now come as far south as I would go. My travels will now take me north and west in the direction of home, however having only taken 3 months to get this far the 2nd half, distance wise, will take 9 months.
We flew back that evening to Invercargil, grabbed a takeaway curry and watched a dreadful british film. The excitement of travel.
Yesterday was a drive through the Catlins to Dunedin. The Catlins coastline is incredible and populated by seals (saw them), sealions (and them) and penguins (too early). We also stopped for photos at Slope Point, the most southerly place on the two main islands, carrying a Christmas tree and with Spike dressed as Santa and visited the petrified trees. That is one weird aspect being here at this time, Christmas is almost here but it doesn’t feel right as its light and summery. It still seems strange to see Christmassy stuff around the place.
On arriving in Dunedin we went for a brewery tour at Speights, with a half hour free bar session at the end. It was a good way to say goodbye to the group as I am staying on in Dunedin for a few days to catch up with Janna from the Green Tortoise. After here its up to Christchurch to catch my flight to Sydney on the 14th.